HC Deb 14 December 1960 vol 632 cc380-1
2. and 3. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) how many widows of Army officers and other ranks are drawing pre-1958 pensions; and when it is proposed to increase them;

(2) how many retired Army officers and other ranks are drawing pre-1958 pensions; and when it is proposed to increase them.

Mr. Profumo

I will, with permission—

Dame Irene Ward

No, not at all.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Lady is under some illusion. The words "with permission" do not mean that she may deny the Minister permission.

Mr. Profumo

I will, with or without permission, answer this Question and Question No. 3 together.

The number drawing pensions awarded before 4th November, 1958, the date to which pensions increases for other ranks and for widows apply, are approximately: officers, 19,500; ORs, 69,500; Widows, 5,200. No further increase is proposed at present.

Dame Irene Ward

As many of the old widows are drawing pensions which are less than the National Assistance scales and are "grandmums", will my right hon. Friend agree that it is not a very good example for recruiting to treat old widows badly and hope to get their grandsons into the Services?

With regard to my second Question, will my right hon. Friend tell me why Lord Montgomery can draw an increased pension under the National Insurance Act and share in the general prosperity of the country when old retired officers who are not entitled to the benefits of the National Insurance Act are left on small pensions which are quite out of tune with modern life?

Mr. Profumo

As my hon. Friend knows, I am not responsible for the National Insurance Act. Widow's pensions were raised by 10 per cent. only last year.

In answer to my hon. Friend's first supplementary question, pressure on pensions comes from inflation which, as she knows, Her Majesty's Government are dedicated to fight. We try to make fair and reasonable provision—

Dame Irene Ward

On the widows.

August September October Total
Medical grounds 561 453 424 1,438
Compassionate grounds:
Under 16 weeks 34 47 30 481
16 weeks and over 118 125 127
Disciplinary grounds 18 15 13 46
Services no longer required 4 6 7 17
TOTAL 735 646 601 1,982
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